Noelle Pikus-Pace had concussion-like symptoms entering skeleton event

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After finally claiming an Olympic medal in the last race of her career today at Sanki Sliding Center, U.S. skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace revealed that she had been suffering from concussion-like symptoms in the days leading up to competition. (She later said she did not have a concussion, as an MRI would later reveal.)

Those symptoms led to doctors having to limit her training runs ahead of the event.

“I felt fine and safe sliding but my vision has been going in and out of being able to focus, which slows my reaction time,” she said according to the Associated Press.

“It has been an extremely difficult week but my family, coaches, and prayers of many allowed me to come out and compete the best I can given the situation.”

VIDEO: Pikus-Pace “couldn’t get to her family fast enough”

Despite those issues, Pikus-Pace managed to keep hold of the silver medal with a four-run aggregate time of 3:53.86, .97 of a second behind gold medal winner Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain.

It’s a remarkable ending to a roller-coaster career full of highs and lows.

After claiming the 2004-05 World Cup, she would become a medal favorite for the 2006 Torino Olympics until she was hit by a bobsled in an October 2005 incident at Calgary Olympic Park.

VIDEO: Pikus-Pace thanks her mom for her Olympic journey

Despite sustaining a compound fracture of her right leg, Pikus-Pace returned to competition just weeks after the accident. But she ultimately did not make the U.S. Olympic Team for Torino.

She came back strong by winning the 2007 world championship and made the Olympic team for Vancouver in 2010. But she finished fourth there, missing a medal by a mere one-tenth of a second.

After that result, she decided to retire and gave birth to her second child in 2011. A year later, she suffered a miscarriage, and the event caused her to rethink her decision to leave the sport.

With her husband and two children at nearly every race for support, Pikus-Pace came back for the 2012-13 World Cup season.

MORE: Pikus-Pace rides positivity to dream ending

Still, after enduring through so much, there was something that hadn’t been accomplished – until today.

“It was worth the wait,” Pikus-Pace said in a team release. “It was worth every minute of it. Honestly, getting hit by the bobsled, people said, oh man, that’s horrible. Getting fourth at the Olympics, they said ah, too bad. Then I had the miscarriage at 18 weeks, and many tears were shed.

“But if I hadn’t gone through every single one of those things, I could not be here today. And this is right where I want to be, and to have my family here, the love and support, it’s just beyond words. Just beyond words.”

source: AP
Noelle Pikus-Pace’s brother Jared (left), son Traycen (center), daughter Lacee (lower right) and husband Janson (right) celebrate with the new Olympic silver medalist in women’s skeleton after today’s race. Photo: AP.

Six months to Tokyo Paralympics: Ten athletes to watch

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Ten Paralympic hopefuls to watch, six months out from the Tokyo Games Opening Ceremony on Aug. 25 …

Chuck Aoki (Rugby)
The U.S.’ top scorer, but still looking for a Paralympic title after bronze and silver medals in 2012 and 2016. Aoki’s father’s family is from Japan, immigrating to the U.S. in the early 1900s. His great-grandparents and grandparents were placed in World War II internment camps. Aoki switched from wheelchair basketball to rugby after seeing the 2005 Oscar-nominated documentary “Murderball.” He has been on the national team since 2009.

Shingo Kunieda (Tennis)
Japan is known for its tennis players (Naomi OsakaKei Nishikori), but Kunieda is by far the most accomplished. He owns a wheelchair record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, 21 Grand Slam doubles titles and three Paralympic gold medals. Japan earned 24 medals at the Rio Paralympics, but they were all silver or bronze.

Oksana Masters (Cycling)
Already a Paralympic rowing and Nordic skiing medalist, Masters bids for a second Games to add a road cycling medal to her haul. In Rio, she placed fourth in the road race and fifth in the time trial. At her last Paralympics in PyeongChang, Masters came back from a fractured right elbow to earn five medals, including two golds.

Evan Medell (Taekwondo)
The U.S. has a medal contender in taekwondo, which debuted as an Olympic medal sport in 2000 and is on the Paralympic program for the first time in Tokyo. Medell, a 22-year-old licensed diesel mechanic, is ranked No. 1 in the world in the K44 +75kg division after 2019 titles at the European and Parapan American Championships.

Morteza Mehrzad (Volleyball)
Iran dominates men’s sitting volleyball. None of its players were more noticeable in Rio than the 8-foot, 1-inch Mehrzad, who led the team in scoring in the gold-medal match. Mehrzad was also part of Iran’s 2018 World title team, a signal that he could return for another Paralympics in Tokyo.

Becca Meyers (Swimming)
Earned three golds and one silver in individual events at the Rio Games, plus broke three world records. Meyers followed that with medals across three different strokes (plus the individual medley) between the 2017 and 2019 World Championships. She has trained at both the North Baltimore Aquatic Club and the Nation’s Capital Swim Club, which produced Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, respectively.

Becca Murray (Basketball)
The leading scorer on the U.S.’ Rio Paralympic champion team returned to the program in 2019 after two years away. Murray, who debuted at the Paralympics in 2008 at age 18 (and earned gold), looks to help the U.S. women bounce back from a 2018 World Championship sixth-place finish without her.

Daniel Romanchuk (Track and Field)
Eliminated in the heats of all his Rio Paralympic events as an 18-year-old. Now Romanchuk is a marathon superstar, winning the wheelchair division in Boston, Chicago, London and New York City in 2019. The University of Illinois product is expected to enter a range of distances in Tokyo, given he lowered 800m and 5000m world records on the track in his classification.

Allysa Seely (Triathlon)
Led a U.S. medals sweep in her classification in triathlon’s Paralympic debut in Rio. Followed with world championships medals in 2017 (silver), 2018 (gold in an undefeated season) and 2019 (silver).

Ben Thompson (Archery)
Upset the world No. 1 compound archer to win the world title in 2019. Ended the season with a No. 1 world ranking and Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year from the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Thompson competed in recent years with sister-in-law Megan‘s name on his arrow wraps. Megan fought breast cancer for years before her death in November as he was en route to the Team USA Awards.

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MORE: Memorable Paralympic moments from 2010s decade

2020 World Track Cycling Championships TV, live stream schedule

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The world track cycling championships offer an Olympic preview, live on NBC Sports Gold and also airing on Olympic Channel this week.

All five daily sessions, beginning Wednesday, stream live for NBC Sports Gold “Cycling Pass” subscribers. Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA airs same-day delayed TV broadcasts.

The U.S. contingent is led by Chloé Dygert, a world champion on the track and the road who is trying to make the Olympic team in both disciplines. Dygert already qualified for Tokyo by winning the world title in the road time trial in September.

On the track, Dygert swept individual and team pursuit titles in 2017 and 2018 but missed last year’s worlds after a May 2018 concussion. She was part of the 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medal team pursuit squad in Rio.

The U.S. has yet to win an Olympic women’s track cycling title. The individual pursuit is not on the Olympic program, but Dygert could anchor a potent team pursuit. The U.S. finished seventh without Dygert and the late Kelly Catlin at the 2019 Worlds.

The international field is led by married British couple Jason and Laura Kenny, who own 10 combined Olympic titles.

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MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

Day Time (ET) Key Events Network
Wednesday 12:20 p.m. Team sprints NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
8 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Thursday 12:20 p.m. Team pursuits NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
8 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Friday 12:20 p.m. Women’s sprint, omnium NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
10:30 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Saturday 10:20 a.m. Women’s madison NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
5 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Sunday 7:50 a.m. Women’s keirin NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
5 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM

*Delayed broadcast